8 children's books that teach kindness and self-love

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This is a hard post to write. I didn't know whether to even write about it, but I think it’s an important one. Since Daddy Big Feet went back after Christmas RnR, Little Feet A has struggled. A lot. It started with nightmares - horrific ones. Then something happened at school and hysterical tears followed. Then we have had weeks of tears before school, tears during school, tears after school. We have had clinginess at home, needing more love affirmations, more cuddles, more deep conversations and more regular nought to ten tantrums.

I understand that the underlying problem is that she is missing her Daddy terribly, but as a result her confidence has plummeted dramatically. Her need for me to be with her all the time is a clear indication of this. Suddenly school which was used to adore has become scary, the days too long for missing me and the playground terrifying. Where once she used to thrive, it has become a place of unease. Being for the most part fine in the close confines of her classroom setting, she fixates on the playground.

After much gentle talks with her over the last weeks, I began to see that she was beginning to realise that we are all different. Or at least she was struggling to make sense of it. My Little Feet A thrives in smaller contexts. Since school started I’ve noticed that where people call her name on the way to school, she doesn’t know what to do with that attention. She likes having a small group of friends and becomes overwhelmed if the group gets bigger. It throws her comfort zone out of whack. And lastly, she seems to have noticed that she wants to do different things than play ‘My Little Pony’ all the time in the playground.

I became apparent after talking to her over some days that she had developed a fear of asking her friends if they wanted to play her games because one of them had said they didn’t want to play them on a couple of days on the trot. I asked her what she likes to do in the playground she said ‘exercise’. Which made me inwardly laugh out loud as she is so her father’s daughter. Whose main dream from having kids is waiting for the day he can go for runs with them. Genuinely!

Little Feet A is 4 years old and I naively thought that I’d be having a discussion about friends, friend dynamics and individuality when she was a bit older. But you see, she is very like me as well. She FEELS. She feels ALL the feels. She is so in touch with her own emotions and those of others. She’s an empath. We feed off people’s energy, and can quickly sense something is off. We have a deep empathy to people’s emotions.

It has been a tough old few weeks. Emotionally very draining. So I have done what our Little Rainbow Tree Unit always does when we need to underline a topic and find some escapism.

We create and we read.

Oh and eat cake…

So we made a DIY Dollhouse where the whole process took about a week. Then I moved on to books. Books about the meaning of kindness, the difference between unkindness and kindness and most importantly about self-love. About how we are all different, how that is ok. How being all the same would be so boring. How she was made perfectly, put on this planet to be her, no one else. Sometimes using someone else’s words when you are tripping over your own or are eager to emphasis your point I find is the most effective.

It’s been a really humbling experience. She’s cried, I’ve cried, we’ve cried together. We’ve had discussions about what courage is. She’s been a scared bear cub and I have been a fierce protective mama bear. But being protective doesn’t mean hiding them away for ever and wrapping them up in cotton wool. It means equipping them with the tools to go out into the world without you and be ok, however painful that is for you to watch. And trust me, it’s painful.

I am glad to say that this week things have been getting a little better. Yesterday she proudly told me that she didn’t cried at school. I was so proud of her and I told her just that. She knows it’s ok to cry and today she did just that when I dropped her off at school. Those emotions are there for a reason. But letting her know that I’m proud of her for not crying and letting her know that continuing to carry on and trying her best and talking about her feelings with me? That. That is courageous. If we are all honest with ourselves life is all about being courageous.

So, here are some books that have helped us. I hope a couple of them speak to you and your Little Feet too.

  1. You Are Special, by Max Lucado

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Oh this book. I have so much love for this book. When I first had Little Feet A, I got given this by another forces wife. I’d never heard of it before but it holds a special place in my heart. There was a town filled with wooden people called Wemmicks. They were made by a carpenter called Eli and he lived in his workshop on the hill overlooking their town. Eli made each Wemmick different, there were no two the same. Each Wemmick liked to hand out Stars or Dot stickers. Stars were given if a Wemmick looked very beautiful, said something funny or could do something brilliant. Whereas Dots were given out if you perhaps weren’t so pretty, had chips in your wood, said something silly or fell over.

The story follows the Wemmick Punchinello who was always covered in lots of Dots. He was always falling over or saying something silly. "He deserves lots of dots, the wooden people would agree with one another. He's not a good wooden person. After a while, Punchinello believed them. I'm not a good Wemmick, he would say." One day he met a Wemmick called Lucia, she didn’t have any Stars or Dots and any that got put on her just simply fell straight off. After talking to her she said he should go see Eli on top of the hill. So he did. During their chat he says, "Who are they to give star or dots? They're Wemmicks just like you. What they think doesn't matter, Punchinello. All that matters is what I think. And I think you are pretty special." Toward the end of their conversation Eli says to Punchinello, ‘Remember, you are special because I made you. And I don’t make mistakes.’

Eli is off course meant to represent God and the Wemmicks humans. Whether you are an Atheist, Agnostic or Believer the message remains. No one has the right to bring you down, only you can allow that hurt to fester. This is a hard lesson, one that adults regularly struggle with. Let’s teach our children then that they are perfect, just the way you are. I don’t think there is better message to teach your Little Feet, do you?

2. The Night Dragon, by Naomi Howarth

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Maud is a dragon, but doesn’t fit in with all the other night dragons. They all breathe out smoky fire that covers the land in sooty grey clouds to help bring nightfall over the world. The other dragons leave Maud out and calls him names. Maud doesn’t even think he can fly let alone blow clouds. One day after one of the night dragon’s birthdays they all fall asleep and don’t wake up to bring nightfall. With encouragement from Mouse, Maud’s only friend, he takes courage and jumps off the cliff flapping his wings. He finds he can fly and not only that when he breathes fire the most stunning multicoloured smoke and clouds come from his nostrils. Maud and Mouse spend their days filling the Earth with the most beautiful sunsets. So next time you see a sunset scattered with rainbow hues, you’ll know who has been flying over you! A stunning book about friendship and encouragement.

3. The Invisible Boy, by Trudy Ludwig

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Teaching children kindness from a young age is so important. School and the playground can be so daunting for some children and I have talked to many teachers and teaching assistants who find it really painful watching scenarios play out in front of them. For younger school children it can often be words that can have a profound lasting affect on their confidence levels. This story is about Brian, the invisible boy. He feels like he is invisible because no other children include him in their games and conversations. That is until a new boy comes to school. Brian is the first to make him feel welcome and they team up and become friends. What a wonderful book that leads to some fantastic conversations about our actions and kindness.

Being a mother of forces children who move from school to school a lot, the book really pulls on my heart strings. Kindness costs nothing. If every parent were to make a conscious effort to actively talk about how kindness can change a situation I wonder what the world would be like in 10 years time.

4. The Sleepy Songbird, by Suzanne Barton

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This is a story about how, Peep a little bird hears the Dawn Chorus and is blown away how beautiful they all sound. Peep desperately wants to join their choir but for the life of him cannot wake up in time to sing with them. Every time he tries he ends up sleeping through the time to sing or is just too tired to join in. After much anguish Peep meets a Nightingale and quickly realises the reason he can’t be part of the Dawn Chorus is because he was meant to sing at dusk and not dawn! The sweet simplicity of this book teaches the beauty of being different and that there is much beauty in how we are made.

5. Dear Girl, by Amy Krous Rosenthal Paris Rosenthal

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Written by a mother-daughter duo this book is for anyone with a daughter or daughters. Heck, even sons! It encourages your girls to look in the mirror and say out loud what they like about their looks, it tells them it’s ok to be smart, it’s ok to be thoughtful and quiet, it’s ok to just want to cry and cry. It’s about raising strong and confident daughters who know their self-worth and knowing that above all else, they can come and tell their Mummy and Daddy anything.

6. I Am Enough, Grace Byers

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A book about differences. Simply written but effective, it is about race and most importantly, the beautiful symmetry of difference and similarity. We are all different, in colour, size, looks, intelligence, speech, but we are all human and therefore all equal. Great for teaching your Little Feet about diversity, especially if you live in an area where there isn’t much racial diversity.

7. Red: A Crayon’s Story, by Michael Hall

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An extremely relevant book about identity and conforming to the stereotype. Red, is a crayon. The trouble is, he isn’t very could at being Red. However hard he tries, and he does try hard, he just can’t quite seem to be Red. Everyone has an opinion (don’t they always?!) on how he could try and be better, what might help him, if only he tried harder. One day Purple, asked him if he might draw a blue sea for her purple boat. Confused at her request, Purple encourages him to just try and what do you know he is actually Blue, not Red and he is actually very good at being Blue! This book is about being true to who you were made to be.

8. You’re Here For A Reason, by Nancy Tillman

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One for anyone who feels downtrodden and at the end of their tether. For those feeling painfully lonely, for mothers and fathers who feel the weight and struggle of parenthood, for children who feel like they aren’t good enough or that their bad moods are world ending. This book is beautifully illustrated with children and animals on every double page. At the beginning of the book a ball and a kite gets lost and blown away. Instead of showing the despair on the children’s faces they shown them how the ball brings happiness to people all over the world and how the ribbons on the kite do the same. The unintended ripples of kindness spread far and wide across the world. The moral of the story, it is ok to be down, but you are here for a reason, you belong and someone is relying on you. You would be so missed. The book ends with the greatest sentence of all - You are loved.